The Arrogance of Logic

Out of  European Enlightenment thought came German Higher Criticism.  Ferdinand Bauer and Adolph von Harnack are two of its major proponents.

The essence of their theory?  That the early Church Fathers were influenced by Greek and pagan philosophy, and therefore Christian doctrine, for example, the Trinity, is based on Greek philosophy not the Bible.

Logical argument, right?  Sure it is.

So you apply the test.  Which part of Greek or pagan philosophy required the Trinity: one God, three Persons?  No cheating now.  You can’t use the Greek call for three gods – polytheism – as the foundation, for that is only a foundation for three gods, not the Trinity.

You get the idea.  All of Christianity apparently can be summed up in these words written recently: “So what are we longing to go back to? A system based on a spiritualized, allegorized, synthesized, version of the word of God from a Greek world view? Babylon? Egypt?”  There is no good in Christianity, it seems, in the eyes of some people.  You ask yourself questions.  Is it true that Church Fathers were influenced by Greek philosophy?  The answer is ‘yes’.

Is it true that the modern world, including most graduates from public schools in the past century, have also been influenced by Greek philosophy?  The answer is ‘yes’.

Then isn’t it quite possible that those who were influenced by Greek Philosophy in the past could find their way out of the maze with the light of Scripture just as well as those today who have been influenced by that system of thought?

The argument is a false one.  The conclusion is not warranted from the premise.  This is why the Tübingen School, as German Higher Criticism was known, became a largely discredited movement.

There is always a challenge to discard non-biblical influences and listen to the Word of God loud and clear.  And it is certainly easy to see Greek influences in contemporary Christianity.

But those Greek influences are just as strong in the general culture.  Our education system, its methods and philosophy, are closer to Greek culture than they are to Biblical culture.  So this question arises: How is it that those born in the 20th century, educated in the schools of Humanistic (Greek) thought, can see the errors of Greek ideas in Christianity while those born in the first three centuries after Christ appear unable to to do this?

What makes us so arrogant that we cannot accept our Church Fathers were as able — perhaps even more able — to overcome Greek philosophy as we who live in the 21st century?

God bless you this week.

Ian Hodge, Ph.D.

For more see- Biblical Landmarks